Saturday, July 25, 2009

Waiting for the 'storm'

I'm in 'hurry up and wait' mode for the tomatoes and the Great Annual Salsa-Making Event. In the meantime there have been a few things to harvest. All of the garlic has been pulled, see previous post on Pickled Garlic.

I got my first tomato this year on July 16th, I think that is my record:

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Zucchinis have been coming on religiously. I had read where you can freeze zucchini, grated or sliced, and have frozen some. You can also blanche and freeze grated zucchini for winter bread making. Freezing zucchini, like many vegetables is easy. First you slice it:

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Then blanche for 3 minutes in boiling water:

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Cool it immediately in a sink of cold water. Ice water is nice, but I usually don't have much ice on-hand:

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Then place in freezer bags and immediately place in your freezer.

Eggplant has been coming on strong, and I will be experimenting by blanching and freezing it also. I have never done it, but have read that you can freeze this also.

Peppers are coming on strong too. I haven't had much luck in getting peppers to ripen at the same time as the tomatoes, so I chop and freeze those also. I will keep some fresh for making stuffed, grilled peppers and hope to post that soon.

After a couple of good rains recently, I looked in the garden this morning and I got a these goodies:

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I still have to pick some green bell peppers, and I have some "Fooled You" peppers. These look just like a jalapeno but are mild. I also have some oh-my-goodness sized cabbages and need to start a batch of sauerkraut.

Soon the 'maters will be coming on strong and it will be time to make salsa. Plus I will have all the fresh tomatoes I want for eating fresh! Yum! There is nothing like a simple burger graced with a slice or two of fresh garden tomato.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pickled Garlic

I grow a lot of garlic, much more than I could ever use in a year. Like many things I grow and make, however, it makes GREAT gifts. Whether it's simply giving a bulb away or a jar of pickled garlic, people appreciate home-made/grown things.

Pickling garlic is a good way to store garlic for gifts throughout the year, and it is really easy.

Here are my ingredients:

About 10-12 large bulbs of garlic
3 cups of white vinegar
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp canning salt (don't use table salt in canning, the iodine will ruin your product)

First I break the cloves from the bulb

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Then you want to blanch the cloves, dropping them in boiling water for about one minute. I used my tomato basket that I use to blanch many other vegetables with.

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Immediately drop them into a sink or large pot of COLD water, to stop the heating process. When you do this, the outer skin slips off of the garlic fairly easily

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Slip all of the skins from the cloves. Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a pot to boiling and boil for one minute. Place the cloves in the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace (space between top of product in the jar and the rim of the jar.)

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Now process in a boiling water-bath canner for 10 minutes (at least it is 10 minutes at my Ohio elevation of 900 feet.)

After 10 minutes of boiling in the canner, remove from canner and allow to cool on your counter.

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I still have a LOT of garlic left. I will probably braid some together, give some raw bulbs away, and keep some for myself. I will also keep a few bulbs for planting more in the fall for next year. To give you an idea of how long some garlic varieties will keep, my garlic from last year kept well, at room temperature, until this past April. That's about 9-10 months!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hot Dog Relish

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The zucchini is coming along strongly, as it normally does this time of year. Personally I get tired of fried or steamed zucchini easily, and am always searching for new ways to use zucchini. So about 10 years ago I started making homemade hot-dog relish. I have tried several recipes and they have all been fantastic. This year's recipe goes something like this, with a little improvisation thrown in here and there, see notes.

12 cups shredded zucchini, core but do not peel (I peeled about half of them before chopping. I also substituted 2 of the 12 cups with 2 cups of chopped cucumber)
3 large onions, chopped fine (I used 5 medium-sized onions)
2 large green peppers, chopped fine
2 large red peppers, chopped fine
1/2 cup pickling salt
3 cups sugar
1 quart vinegar (you can use white or cider)
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed (recipe called for seed, I used dry mustard powder)
2 tsp. turmeric

I chopped the zucchini, peppers and onions in a food processor until it was the consistency that I liked in a relish, some people like it a lot chunkier than I like it. Combine the chopped zucchini, onion, green and red peppers, sprinkle with the salt and cover with cold water, let stand at least 2 hours (I have done it overnight in the fridge.) Drain well and press out excess liquid. I did this by pouring the pot of chopped veggies into a couple of colanders that were placed in the sink, then running cold water over them for several minutes. If it is not rinsed well it is too salty.

In a large (6-8 quart?) pot boil together the sugar, vinegar, turmeric, celery and mustard for 3 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and bring to a boil again. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then spoon into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, tighten caps.

Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

Yield: I got 8 pints, a half-pint jar and one quart jar. I did the quart jar just for kicks and giggles. Hopefully I can take the quart jar to a church event or a large picnic sometime.

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